Riders enjoyed a boost this week, as more local authorities and landowners opened rights of way. In particular, the news that royal parks at Richmond and Bushy were once more open to horses was warmly received by the British Horse Society.
Spokesman Nichola Gregory said: “This is marvellous news and we hope it marks a turning point for the industry. We believe that it could save at least one riding school which was under threat due to the foot-and-mouth restrictions.”
The risk of spreading foot and mouth disease to the parks’ deer is now considered so slight that closure of the parks is no longer justified. However, visitors who have been in an FMD infected area during the past 10 days have been asked to stay away, and the parks authority has requested that dogs be kept on a lead.
Following the release of a new set of guidelines for local authorities at the end of last month, declaring that there was no veterinaryjustification for denying all public access to land, the countryside is gradually being opened up where it is safe to do so.
Latest information on the rights of way which have been reopened can be obtained from www.iprow.co.uk.
Where riding is restricted to roads, local authorities are warning motorists to expect more walkers, cyclists and horses on the highways. The British Horse Society is advising riders who may have to pass grazing land oncountry lanes to contact the farmers concerned and reassure them that they are following all the recommended disinfection procedures.